October 2022 Moms

Pregnancy Phobia and Being Pregnant

Hey everyone. I only found this community a few days ago, and I don’t so much know my purpose for posting this. Support, maybe?
I think I’m worried about getting in my head. See background below. I’m sorry for the essay, sort of :)

My friends don’t seem to understand even if they’re supportive, I don’t think my family understands, although my husband 100% does. It really helps.

I’ve always had a phobia of being pregnant. I haven’t seen a professional about this because it didn’t really seem like something I wanted to do anyways. I have no natural affinity for babies or kids and until I met my now-husband of 7.5 years, which is a whole other long but sweet story, I was completely convinced I would never want children.

My husband’s first exposure to my phobia was when we were a couple years into dating and, for some reason, he made a comment about pregnancy or parenthood for dirty talk, triggering a full-blown panic attack and a very awkward conversation with plenty if crying.

Over the last decade, we have been working through it together. It has been incremental progress, all the way up to a point where I have been able to have calm and collected conversations with him and even other people. We have discussed additional aspects of gestation and parenthood as I have been ready, and I definitely know enough about physical care and health to teach a high school health class at this point, including pre-natal stages and what my body might be like afterwards. Hemorrhoid cream, nipple pads, stretch marks, possible less-controlled peeing. I’ve been around a few babies and held some of them, and I believe I am pretty well-informed about the good AND gross parts of parenthood.

As of about two-three years, we have both wanted to become parents, and now it is happening. I should be due around October 1st as per my calculations.

I’m doing fine, really. It’s like the shift in hormones has done my phobia good, like… I’m good at being pregnant. The fatigue is murderous, but it’s really the only struggle.

I’m trying to stay prepared for people bringing up unwanted information that I’m really not ready for, mentally, because they’re trying to be helpful. That’s my biggest worry as concerns my lifelong phobia at this time, because it’s already happened with one friend. Most people around me are completely fine and aren’t just serving up details and information… but I’m not showing yet. I know how most cultures are, and the US is generally pretty big on unsolicited advice and details.

I am trying to step back and take deep breaths when I get overwhelmed. It’s just… difficult.

If you’ve read this far, I really appreciate your time. It has been a journey, and if you have any advice or support to offer, it is also greatly appreciated.

Re: Pregnancy Phobia and Being Pregnant

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    Sorry hun. I had a phobia of pregnancy the first time too...it was just so, I don't know, mammalian. The fear of letting my body get taken over was very real and icky to me. I think it fed into my anxieties and need to control things as a coping mechanism. That's awesome how you and your husband have been gradually able to work through this though. You really are doing amazing and it is not easy.

    As a STM now, the hormones really did take over when it came to the bodily changes. Gaining weight was hard for me, but I didn't have a problem with growing a human or breastfeeding when I thought I would.

    I'd definitely let your caregiver know at your next appointment. They've probably seen others with a phobia and can help with some resources or comforting words. Perhaps they can refer you to an appropriate therapist too, if that would be something you'd be interested in.
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    A lot of people struggle with the losing control and autonomy over their bodies. What not enough people say is that it is okay to be afraid, and good for you for doing so much to allow your mind to digest this. There's a lot of surrendering involved wth pregnancy and labour and parenthood, and quite possibly in your past there were points where surrendering made you feel very unsafe. Most importantly: being afraid does not mean you will be bad at this or a bad mother. I totally agree with merostomata that if you haven't yet be really open with your care provider about how you feel and your phobia history so they can best support you, and if they don't support you change providers to someone who does. You've got this!
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    Wow you two! I don’t know how to quote, even though I tried, haha.

    Merostomata: Hearing that the hormones took over helps so much. You might not be a quantitative sample, but I am glad to hear it! <3
    I will be letting the midwives know at the hospital we’ll be going to, for sure, and I’ll see what they say. I keep telling my husband that he is the only reason I feel safe doing this, especially with the fatigue.

    Krthouse: I did not make the connection between losing control over my body and my childhood. I am celiac and I was in pain regularly and on a very strict eating schedule basically until I was 12, and I NEVER would have thought about any possible connection there. It makes sense that giving up control of my body willingly is difficult, especially since pregnancy can have so infinitely many effects on the body.

    BOTH: Thank you so much for the responses. I truly mean it! I feel loved and seen!
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    @pangolindrome That makes so much sense about having celiac! Yes, you've had to control so much to protect your body and be at its mercy before, plus pregnancy has its own set of risks and rules, so of course pregnancy would be scary. You're doing all the right things by communicating about your fears openly. First step in conquering a fear is naming it!
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    silverholly8silverholly8 member
    edited February 2022
    @pangolindrome wow, thank you so much for sharing what you're going through. I also wrestle with a specific phobia (not pregnancy, but pregnancy-adjacent: emetophobia, fear of vomit). So I can appreciate the struggle and the extra bit of courage it takes to face your fear. 

    A couple of things that I've found helpful on my journey to manage my phobia:

    Your phobia is rooted in a valid fear: pregnancy is scary! You are not wrong. And so it's totally natural and logical to have fears around it. But at a certain point, the phobia is really a fear of the fear, not of the trigger itself. It's a fear of what the fear will do to you, that it will prevent you from living the life you want. And the fact that you're on this journey of pregnancy is such a triumph already. You are pursuing parenthood despite the fear, and that is badass.

    Another thing that has helped me in managing my phobia is to "accept the things I cannot change." One thing you can never really control is what other people do or say. You can only control your own actions and your own reactions to other people. To protect yourself from feeling shook by other people's intrusiveness, maybe you can cultivate a mantra to remind yourself "I know what's best for me" or "I will make the right choice for me and my baby", and then screw what anybody else has to say about it.

    (Of course, I'm a rando on the internet, so feel free to ignore my advice too! Lol )

    At the end of the day, what gets me through the tough parts is keeping in mind that having a baby is worth the fear, the risk, and the uncertainty. 

    Cheering for you ❤️
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    I can’t relate too much to the pregnancy fear, but congratulations on taking steps to conquer and face your fears!! One thing I dealt with a LOT and most people do, was judgement on my parental decisions from the time I had my twin boys and even now sometimes still (they are 4) I just listen nod and smile or if I can think to say something on time (before I’ve walked away lol) I’d say, oh really is that how you did it with your twins? bc most of the time that person didn’t have any multiples, and can’t relate to how I choose to raise, and care for my kids. Love the advice and support given from everyone else who has commented. Motherhood comes naturally, we are made for this and you will be a great mom!!
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    @silverholly8 Thank you for such a thoughtful response! My biggest challenge is definitely how I react to unexpected advice and details, and I will keep in mind that I have the ability to stay calm. I just have to find my space.

    Just today, my husband pointed out to me today that he is probably the only one who will be able to visit me in the hospital due to the pandemic and how I will be there for a couple weeks or so. I wasn’t expecting it, and it really threw me for a loop. Like two weeks? How will I even make it? Haha… but then I realized, it’s all going to be okay. It’s way off in the distance, and it’s not something to be worried about at all.

    @jcw2018 That is so good! You should absolutely do what is right for you and your twins, and other people never have the full story on another person’s life. I wish people were more inclined for open conversation and less… propagating what worked for them personally. There is so much we can learn from each other.
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    *lurking from September* a couple of weeks?  Ha.  If you have a Caesarean, you'll be there 3-4 days.  Otherwise, 1-2 days is typical.
    Current pregnancy -
    First BFP on 1/4/22.  Due date 9/13/22.

    Four prior losses, no living children - 1 first trimester miscarriage, 1 blighted ovum, 1 chemical, and one extreme premature live birth daughter who died at 15 days old.

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    @kboydbowman ok I gotta ask - bowman as in a name or as in you shoot bows? Also thank you for that info. Maybe he was trying to tease me. 
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    silverholly8silverholly8 member
    edited February 2022
    @pangolindrome oh man, I am hopeful that will not be the case. Not sure where you're located, but a friend of mine in Massachusetts was able to have 3 people in the room with her for her birth in November 2021. Hopefully by next fall the pandemic will be fading into the rearview mirror 🤞🤞🤞
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    @silverholly8 I’m thinking Covid-19 or whatever it mutates into is endemic now, like the flu, but maybe we can get to that same place with it soon. I really hope so too! Three is all I need. My parents and siblings are on another continent, so just hubbs and the in-laws.
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    @pangolindrome at the hospital I work at we allow 2 visitors and patients are allowed to switch them out throughout the day. Also we only make women stay 24 hours after a vaginal delivery or 48 hours after a c-section as long as everything is okay with mom and baby. 
    TTC History
    Me: 35 DH: 34
    Married 07/2012
    DD born 07/2014
    DD2 born 10/2018
    DS born 10/2022

    IF history:
    TTC #2 since January 2016
    June-Aug 2017: 3 IUIs w/Clomid = BFN
    Sept 2017: Dx w/Endometriosis
    Oct 2017: IUI w/Letrozole = BFN
    Nov 2017: IUI w/Letrozole = BFN
    Dec 2017: pre-IVF testing
    Jan-Feb 2018: IVF--17 eggs retrieved, 13 fertilized, 9 frozen and 1 transferred on 2/10 = BFP on 2/19!!! EDD 10/29/2018
    FET Oct 2021: BFP on 10/31! MC at 5 weeks
    FET Feb 2022: BFP on 2/15! EDD 10/29/22

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    @pangolindrome being an archer would be cool, but no, it's just part of my name :)
    Current pregnancy -
    First BFP on 1/4/22.  Due date 9/13/22.

    Four prior losses, no living children - 1 first trimester miscarriage, 1 blighted ovum, 1 chemical, and one extreme premature live birth daughter who died at 15 days old.

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    mckenzcmckenzc member
    edited February 2022
    It sounds like you have a firm grasp on your limits, your triggers & what you need to feel your best revolving your phobia. 

    However….I would STRONGLY encourage you to have a mental health plan for when baby comes. If you already have a history of anxiety, depression, stress,etc, then you need a plan for postpartum depression and anxiety. Will you have PPD OR PPA? Maybe not! I hope not. But you absolutely need a plan for it and the planning starts now. I was hit with severe PPD after the birth of my first without any history of anxiety, depression, phobias, etc. I was literally “born to be a mom.” I loved kids. I loved my pregnancy. I was obsessed with everything becoming mama. And then PPD hit my like a freight train from hell. 

    I say this not to scare you but prepare you. You would rather be prepared with your support system and plans (whether it’s therapy, family help, or prescriptions) than to walk through PPD blindly. 

    Talk about it with your provider NOW. If they don’t seem supportive and comfortable discussing PPD now, find someone new. I walked into my first appt with my second pregnancy already asking what our PPD plan was for round 2. I was literally 8 weeks pregnant 🤣 but you cannot over prepare for your mental health as a new mom. You can’t. 

    Side note to ANYONE reading this—I am 10000% open and honest when it comes to my journey with PPD and PPA. I have 0 shame. I am a great mom and I had PPD. I refuse to let any stigmas surrounding maternal health and wellness stand. So I will talk to anyone about it and share my experience. 

    Prepare now & hope for the best. I hope none of you get a hint of PPD, as it was the darkest time of my life. 
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    So much love to you! I am a therapist and have worked with clients who have had this phobia. It can feel very scary to have something occur in your body and change you.  The good news is there are lots of ways to help cope with the anxiety.  One way I work with clients is to shift the sense of control away from the baby and back to the client. Instead of thinking about the baby changing your body focusing on how amazing your body is that you get to create life and you get change to support it. Also remembering what is happening right now is temporary and there is an end point.  

    I personally use the apps Insight Timer and Clear Fear to help manage anxiety. I find them both really helpful and both of them are free. Hang in there! You can do this! 
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